How to keep your car running in the stay-at-home era
With the advent of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, many people are driving their
cars much less often, and for shorter distances than usual. If you're doing a good job of staying
at home, you might find that your car's battery is depleted and the inside of your car is damp
when you need to drive somewhere.
Here are a few tips to help keep your car in good shape for when you need it:
• Start your car at least every 3 days and let it warm it up completely to help keep the
battery charged. Be sure to run the heater and air conditioning to help dispel any water
condensation in the car. That's important during a wet Portland spring.
• If you have a place to plug in, consider purchasing a quality battery tender to keep your
batteries charged up. Most auto parts stock these and they cost about $40. Avoid the
cheap ones; they don't work. When your car sits idle for a long time, functions like the
clock and security system can drain the battery. Keeping a full charge is the single most
important thing you can do to help your car start right up again, and it extends the life
of your car battery.
• If you can, keep your fuel tank full. Water condenses in the tank when there's air in it
instead of fuel. This is especially a problem for diesel engines.
• Keep your vehicle secure in your garage if possible, or in your driveway instead of on the
street. If you do park your car outdoors, always be sure to lock it, and never leave
anything out and visible in the car.
• Most jurisdictions require cars parked on the street to be moved at least once every 72
hours, or they may be assumed to be abandoned. If you get a notice on your car, take it seriously. In the city of Portland, the limit is 24 hours.
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